Awareness of environmental impacts that accompany mining and processing activities has increased significantly over the last decades. Environmental responsibility and the social licence to operate are closely related topics, as the influence of mining on water, air, soil and biodiversity is often a matter of dispute with local communities. Preventing, mitigating and rectifying the adverse impacts of mining on the environment are therefore key tasks for the sector.
The first step for companies to meet their environmental responsibilities is for all stakeholders to know and understand company impacts on the ecosystems in which they operate, and how these impacts affect local populations.
Effective environmental management is founded on legal frameworks, regulations, and policies that position governments for successful management throughout the mining life cycle. Governments can use environmental management throughout the mining life cycle to avoid or mitigate negative impacts and facilitate successful remediation. Conversely, a failure to effectively manage operations can threaten their continued viability and undermine the relationships between a mining company, affected communities, and all levels of government.
To help governments in this regard, the IGF Secretariat’s developed a Guidance for Governments: Environmental Management and Mining Governance.
The ICMM’s Good Practice Guide on Mining and Biodiversity provides orientation for improving biodiversity management throughout the mining cycle, with special emphasis on collaborating with biodiversity specialists.
The NRGI has developed a Tools Explorer for finding tools to measure in economic terms (valuation) the costs of social and environmental impacts. This knowledge can make it easier for governments, companies and communities to define mitigation and remediation measures.
The guide Extracting Good Practices published by UNDP and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency provides a comprehensive set of recommendations, resources and practical examples for integrating environmental and human rights protection into the governance of the mining sector. Step 1 focusses on adequate regulations and institutions, step 2 addresses integrated and participatory Land Use Planning, and steps 3 – 8 focus on each phase of the mining cycle from exploration to post-closure.
Unfold to find out more about key issues for strengthening environmental responsibility in the mining industry.